Last week “Not The Footy Show’ celebrated 8 years on air in Perth. Not bad for a show everyone said would never have any appeal.
Reflecting on the past eight years and the many great guests we have had on the show as well as the various people I have shared the hosting duties with I wondered whether the sporting landscape in Perth had really changed in eight years. The answer is probably not much really, but nationally and internationally, yes.
We are still told that this is a “footy town” (AFL)and have that one particular sport rammed down our throats, even if many of us are not footy fans, or like other sports as well. Sadly many people still believe what they are told; in my experience over the past 8 years, footy is not as important to as many people as it was. The constant rule changes and the handling of misdemeanours by the sports administrators and the press have left people a little disenchanted.
After over 25 years in the media and 8 years presenting “Not the Footy Show” one thing I have noticed is how the media landscape globally has changed.
We see more and more syndicated stories appearing in the press and rarely do we see our newspaper journalists sniffing out a news story, they merely report on events that have already happened. Match reports rarely tell you what actually happened in a game, what minutes goals, tries or runs were scored, or even give you the starting line-ups. Even some cricket reports now do not put the scorecard at the end of the days play. To say this is because the internet is more instant is a cop out, it has come down to money, and costs, profit and loss rather than reporting.
One recent journalism student said he was studying journalism because he loved sport and wanted to cover it. Then surely he should have been studying sports science or something similar? The subject he is studying, journalism, should be the main focus and if he is fortunate to work in sport then he is extremely lucky, that should be his goal, not the reason for his degree. Maybe that is the problem too many journalists are just fans writing about the game, and are unable to seperate the two.
A case in point, 2006 World Cup in Germany, an Australian journalist turned up at the media centre wearing a Socceroos shirt. He was frowned upon by the world’s media, and his integrity was definitely questioned. Now to see journalists in the national team colours is far more common, and accepted. In fact frequently for key matches the presenters are actually sporting the colours of their nation. Is that right? Who am I to judge, but I do feel it shows a shift in attitudes and what is acceptable and what is not. Are these people still simply telling us the story of the game, or are they too like us fans willing one team on. When have you ever heard one of the greats in football commentary, Martin Tyler let his emotions get away from him? Is his style of commentary a thing of the past?
THere is no doubt satellite television has changed everything. If we look at the rights purchases for television and partnerships between media outlets and sporting organisations, the lines have clearly been blurred in the last ten years. Many ‘experts’ are muzzled if they opt to speak their mind and call a dreadful game for what it is. These media partnerships are seen as being more about promotion of the game, rather than honest coverage; the trouble is the average punter with so many televised games can see for themselves and know if a player or a team is playing badly, and simply gets frustrated that the commentators fail to call it as it is. As a result their credibility of the coverage starts to suffer, but not the game itself.
What are we to do though when some television and radio bigwigs state that sport is about entertainment and not honest truthful coverage? So strong are these ‘partnerships’ now that it is nothing new for one of the top executives at the sporting organisation to call his counterpart at the television station and ask them to censure a commentator. The same sadly happens in newspapers as well. It is less prevalent in radio.
One has to ask is this the right way to go? Is this not a controlled media that we in the West so frequently scoffed at when the iron curtain existed? If sport is to be like life, we should praise when it is warranted and criticise in equal measure if mistakes have been made, but we should always temper that by remembering that our stars and heroes are just human beings like us all. They too are fallible, as we all are.
Sport is entertainment, and should never be taken too seriously. However with so much money swirling around it has to be taken more seriously than it used to be as it is indeed big business. Should the truth be stifled, should honest analysis be suppressed? Is that what the fans at home want?
Times change and so do people’s needs, maybe this is what people want, but surely we should never sell such values, as honesty and integrity?
It has been an interesting 8 years, and let us hope that there will be many years to come. The show has grown in popularity and now our guest list is usually full a week out from each show, maybe that says it all.
Thank you once again to all involved over the years, John Lee, Darren Harper, Kody Blay, Dan Israel, Clint Ford, Michael Fontein and Ryan Cope. Its been a lot of fun. The next milestone is our 400th show!